We all value being admired and work towards getting attention, recognition and approval. That feeling we get inside of being better than others is triggered by the serotonin hormone.
You feel admired, which implies you are better than others. This feeling has made very many people broke. Keep reading and understand how this feeling of admiration triggers strange actions.
When a two year old manages to wear his/her shoes and tie up the shoelaces, we clap and yell out “Good Girl/Boy!”. The admiration makes the boy or girl feel good, and seek other actions that bring more admiration.
This is why we reinforce good behaviour through clapping and standing ovations. This feeling is generated from how you think others perceive you.
The challenge with admiration, recognition and approval is that we need it, and yet it’s triggered by external factors: other people. Someone must give us that attention in order to trigger serotonin, you are not in control of how it’s generated.
The meaning you give to social status
Your brain’s craving for serotonin is a drive for social status.
You can’t avoid it, it’s ingrained in you, but you must manage how you seek to feel good from recognition. Why should people respect you, and how do you seek this respect?
People will do the craziest things just to be famous, to get the recognition.
You may have witnessed a man or woman sneer at you begrudgingly when you walk into the room, he or she may not even know you.
You have a friend who acts as though she has never seen you before when she’s on the queue to the VVIP section of the concert, or when she’s hanging out with people she considers to be more important than you (basically, more important than her).
You might also have that friend who calls to confirm whether you read her facebook post. After he confirms, he asks in shock “Na mbona huja like?! Hizo suggestions unanipea enda uweke kwa post?!”
They’re seeking recognition, serotonin is in play.
In the same light you might have wondered why it feels so good when you gossip, there’s a sick-pleasant feeling of knowing that someone else isn’t as good as they wish to have us believe.
This is all triggered by the serotonin in your brain. It’s an ecstatic feeling that comes when we receive social status.
We tend to find ways to trigger serotonin in our brains, and we find ourselves using all the short-cuts we can find. The shortcuts tend to give us short term happiness from recognition, some of these shortcuts can affect us negatively in the long-run.
One has to decide what status means to them. Does it mean taking a loan to upgrade your car, so that your friends (who might not even have cars) see how important you are?
Is status spending all your salary and credit in buying the latest fashion, so that you can look better than every other boy or girl in your circle?
Will it be the nudes you post online, and the likes and shares they receive that give you status?
The challenge with seeking serotonin is that it has an increasing threshold, a point where you feel good when the acknowledgement comes, and seek to feel even better than you felt before from the social status.
You start with taking a loan to buy clothes you don’t need, then you realize you have been getting 500 likes, and you get used to the 500. Then you seek more attention and appreciation, and you take a loan to buy clothes and these clothes will only look good if pictures are taken in London.
So you take another loan to go to London so that people can see your pictures in the new clothes on the London bridge, and Oxford Street shopping, drinking coffee at Starbucks. This time you get 800 likes. Every time someone says, “Wow”, you are triggered to beat the last serotonin goal you set for yourself.
Serotonin makes us do the craziest things, all of us, in different ways. But we must find healthy ways of getting attention and acknowledgement. The good feeling you get from high levels of serotonin is very fleeting, so find meaningful ways to receive social status.
This is one of the reasons why people try to find their purpose, and work had to receive medals and acknowledgement. This is a healthy way of triggering the serotonin levels.
Volunteering is another good way, work with people in need, and once you do, share your experience of working with these people in need. I know it seems like you are showing off, but it’s a healthy show-off. And it will trigger you to help more.
That’s why you’ll see so many white people who take a photo with poverty ridden children in African slums and upload them online. Serotonin is in play. They want to seem better than those whom they’ve left back at home making millions of dollars in wall street. They appeal to the heart.
Allowing ourselves to enjoy life, and find social status
Is it ok to feel good about helping poor people? Is it ok if someone posts a picture of them cleaning out the city? Or a picture in a bikini enjoying the thrills of Diani beach?
Enjoying status is a human need and we must seek positive ways to enjoy this status.
It all depends on what is enough for you. Is a smile from a stranger enough to raise your serotonin levels, or must you receive a million likes from people you don’t know?
Align your social status with actions that will grow and enrich you. Take pleasure in every day social activities.
Give people compliments. Smile and pay them an honest compliment when they deserve it. Their reaction of pleasure may be enough to raise your serotonin levels. And you will notice, most people will pay a compliment back to you.
Give more, and share the stories of your good experience with others. Work harder, and take the compliments when people acknowledge your work.
Most people, especially women, refuse complements. Someone says, “you look good today,” and before the person is done with paying you the compliment, you already rejecting their complement with comments like, “what do you want?!”
Take time to receive compliments, and when someone starts complimenting you, be quiet with a smile on your face, and keep saying, “really?! why is that?” Prolong their explanation of the compliment, secure your serotonin for the day.
Join social groups, like reading groups where you can share your comments on books with people who care to understand your opinion, and will acknowledge your intellect.
Or join a church group, where you can raise funds for church activities and visit the sick and elderly.
There are so many ways to have the serotonin we seek. But remember, you should not be addicted to it!
There are times your serotonin will be up, and other times it will be down. Acknowledgement would not feel so good if we received it all the time. At the times of low levels of serotonin, hormones like endorphins and oxytocin will be there to fill that gap!